According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020 there will be one million more computer science-related jobs than graduating students qualified to fill them. Ignite My Future in Schools (IMFIS) changes that by equipping today's students—and tomorrow's workforce—with the training and resources to think computationally. With a goal of reaching one million students in 5 years, Discovery aims to provide computer science training where it is lacking to prepare computer science professionals for careers, but also to transform their approach to problem-solving for their societies.
Similarly, Discovery Education and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) chose to develop teacher resources based on computational thinking strategies (collect data, analyze data, find patterns, decompose problems, abstract, build models, develop algorithms) rather than another coding and computer science programs for middle school teachers and students. IMFIS's resources are unique because they are transdisciplinary meaning computational thinking (CT) is imbedded into lessons for Social Studies, English Language Arts, Music, Physical Education, Math and Science.
Discovery's objective was to show that CT is a fundamental skill for everyone—not just for computer scientists—enhancing analytical ability among educators and students across all subjects and disciplines. CT is a problem-solving process that equips learners with essential skills for deciphering real-world systems and solving complex problems—Discovery and TCS want to ensure that every educator can learn and teach every student to think this way for global societal betterment.
With a goal of engaging 20,000 teachers and one million U.S. students by 2021, Discovery and TCS encourage global thinking in students and educators in local settings with dynamic training, thought leadership and engagement opportunities for learning and exploring computational thinking (CT) strategies. From school to school, IMFIS employs its 40+ CT learning resources to build student and teacher relationships with the CT thought model for analyzing and developing solutions to digital and social problems in initiatives like:
-Ignite Innovation Student Video Challenge asks groups of 1-4 students at schools across the nation to develop a digital solution in response to the question, "How can we improve the world?" IMFIS prompts students in grades 6, 7 and 8 to think beyond their classrooms, communities and nations in order to improve one aspect of the global society. In the form of a mobile app, website, robot, wearable tech, smart home device or any digital product, students develop solutions to health-related, environmental and educational problems that occur across the world using computational thinking strategies. Students then document their product or service in a one- to two-minute video explaining their solution for the chance to win $10,000 scholarship and a mentorship with TCS to develop a prototype.
-Days of Discovery connects up to 150 educators and 250 community members each Day of Discovery and Community Night. Additionally, each market's local learning leaders, who promote teacher learning communities, connect participants and act as guides for cross-district learning and sharing. More than 3,000 TCS employees are also actively involved as mentors and support the building of local coalitions in each city. Educators have the opportunity to engage with high quality professional development content that aligns with existing curricular requirements and build relationships with their local educator networks.
-TECHademy Webinars feature key topics on CT presented for teachers by education thought leaders to encourage the further application of CT strategies in instruction. The cost-free, online webinars, aligned to national standards and K-12 Computer Science Framework, improve access to professional development resources for educators with instructional courses and content designed to promote increased student engagement and achievement. Educators at every school can learn and apply CT approaches in their own communities and schools using lessons from webinars.
Discovery and TCS continue to develop cutting-edge tools for CT teaching and learning in schools across the U.S. in order to transform strategies for problem-solving in communities local, national and international.
Since September of 2017, Discovery Education has been engaging with teachers via digital marketing campaigns to raise visibility and boost engagement with the IMFIS resources resulting in thousands of resource downloads correlating to an estimated student reach of over 500,000, surpassing the halfway point of their goal to reach one million students by 2021.
In addition to the teachers reached through the digital platform, Discovery and TCS provided in-person professional development on the IMFIS resources for hundreds of teachers with U.S. school districts in the Washington, D.C. area, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Michigan and Wisconsin as early adopters and launch sites of this transdisciplinary approach. Since launching in 2017, IMFIS has engaged 300,000 students and 5,100 educators across the country. To date, participating educators have obtained over 575 micro-certifications through completion of the self-placed, e-learning modules for the eight computational thinking strategies.
IMFIS also builds on TCS' robust global community initiatives that have inspired more than two million young people in STEM education and careers. In August 2018, IMFIS launched the TCS Ignite Innovation Student Challenge, inspiring students to use these techniques to pressing problems encountered in their communities. Winners of the challenge will earn scholarships totaling over $20,000, virtual mentorships with TCS employees and the opportunity to work with TCS to bring their idea to life.
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